While J C Penney is a major retailer, some have wondered how the company fared so with many search terms late in 2010. According to an article at TheSpec.com, the retail giant was doing so well in placement for search the they even beat out some of the manufactures such as “Samsonite carry on luggage”.

The retailer had this search advantage during the heavy holiday online shopping season. How did they gain such an advantage?

It is a dirty little search engine optimization trick called “link farming”. While the search engine companies do not discuss the details of how they rank pages, it is common knowledge that incoming links from relevant sites boost your rank in search. If your site receives legit incoming links, it will be better ranked. Legit links are “organic” indications of validity. If the links are simply placed on BS web sites, and not legit, it is a “black hat” tactic and frowned on.

So someone, J C Penney Company denies any involvement or authorization, put thousands of links on pages which took you back to the relevant section of J C Penney’s web site. Google does not take such tactics lightly. They have, in the past, removed sites from search results completely for using similar tactics.

Whether J C Penney is guilty or not, they got lucky. According to the article, Google will only take “corrective action”. I think it will be interesting to see if they actually track down this “farmer”. If they do and they are associated with the retailer, will they then be penalized by search companies? If caught and not associated with the company, will Penney Company take some type of legal action against the farmer?